Posted on 7/22/2012
In Part 1, I introduced a concept that caused a major ruckus in the church world. People from countless denominations have already written articles to condemn the ideas portrayed in my last "blog." They could not fathom the idea that their church organization were being controlled by evil spirits, working behind the scenes. It is not a foreign concept. In an often quoted scripture, the Apostle Paul explains it this way:
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (Ephesians 6:12 KJV)
Here we learn that the legions of evil spirits have various ranks and positions, much like many "modern church organizations." We also learn that these evil spirits infest many organizations, both political and spiritual, allowing them to carry out their work, in this day, almost totally unhindered. It helps the evil spirits also, that most religious leaders in most church organizations use the first four words of the verse quoted above and discard the rest of the sentence.
To give an example of the attitude of most church leadership, I refer you to an old, heavily-criticized movie, Exorcist II: The Heretic. Actor Richard Burton, playing a Jesuit priest, Father Phillip Lamont, made a very interesting statement to his supervising Cardinal:
"No one in the church wants to hear about the devil, Satan has become an embarrassment to our progressive views."
While the movie applied Father Lamont's statement directly to the Roman Catholic Church, it could be easily applied to all the mainline churches, many fundamentalist churches, and even many Pentecostal and Charismatic organizations, which should be more open to the idea of evil spirits operating in their midst. While many conservative church organizations: Baptist, Holiness, Pentecostal, and Charismatic, mention the devil in their so-called "Statement of Faith," and some of their pastors may mention the devil in passing in their sermons; most of them refuse to teach with any substance on the subject.
Discuss the question of evil spirits with most pastors and other church leaders, and they will contend quite foolishly that talking about the devil "scares people," and that by talking about them, you somehow give them power. Of course, there is not a shred of scripture to support such a notion, but they believe it, nonetheless. It has been my experience that if the subject is presented in an objective and clear manner, the fear element should be effectively eliminated. Unfortunately, many preachers who do teach anything about the devil, tend to get "carried away" when they talk about the subject in their sermons and literally distribute demonic Spirits of Fear to their congregations. In some fringe Pentecostal and Holiness groups, this is the biggest way the devil is presented to them. In many cases, their leaders use the devil as a control mechanism to "keep their people in line."
In the last "blog," we talked about the need to examine ourselves to see if we be in the faith (II Corinthians 13:5). What I did not do was give the criteria which should be used to make that examination. Jesus made the following very clear:
Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:20-23, emphasis mine)
Matthew 7 is one of the more neglected chapters of the New Testament because it makes a lot of church organizations look very bad. Many of the people who have generated a lot of publicity with their alleged Christian works, risk being "workers of iniquity." They become workers of iniquity when they point their publicity towards themselves and their organizations, and not toward Christ. It is even more interesting that Christ tells them, "I never knew you." It is clear that these people failed their examination big time.
Earlier in Chapter 7 of Matthew, Jesus compares "false prophets" to "ravening wolves" who come into a group and consume the souls of the sheep. Jesus then says you will know them by their fruits. He then illustrates this by asking a rhetorical question: "Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?" (Matthew 7:16b) He then explains that good trees bring forth good fruit, but corrupt trees bring forth evil fruit. It is clear that the examination tests for results. But what results should you be looking for? Here is the list:
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe;
- In my name shall they cast out devils;
- They shall speak with new tongues;
- They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them;
- They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. (Mark 16:16-18, listing mine)
It is interesting how much controversy this scripture has caused over the years. The biggest problem is that many preachers have used these scriptures out of their context. Some fringe Holiness preachers argued that you were not saved unless you were baptized. Other fringe Baptist preachers still argue that you were not saved unless you were baptized by immersion. Many Church of Christ teachers took these arguments one step further and then contended that you were not saved unless you were baptized by immersion in their church by their preacher. For a time, debates raged out all over the Southern United States over the issue of "Baptismal Regeneration." There are countless websites that still deal with the issue.
The liberal mainline churches took another approach. When liberal theologian, Dr. Kenneth Taylor released his Living Bible in 1971 (which he admits in the forward is a "paraphrase"), he argued that these verses from the book of Mark were not in the original New Testament. In time, researchers discovered that the last few verses of Mark were only omitted from one very questionable manuscript. The manuscript was found by Constantin von Tischendorf when he visited Saint Catherine's Monastery near the alleged location of Mount Sinai in Egypt. Constantin von Tischendorf claimed to have found it in a dustbin (trash can). It never occurred to the Tischendorf to ask the monks why it was in the dustbin. Instead, he takes it to Europe and proclaims it to be "one of the oldest manuscripts of the New Testament that we have."
Later research however, determined that the manuscript was not written until the eighth century, a mere seven hundred years after the fact. The fact that the manuscript has now been discredited has not stopped liberal church organizations and their publishers from omitting these verses from their newest Bible translations. It is clear that these church organizations and their publishers have a vested interest in keeping these verses out of their "modern translations."
The bitter reality is that most church organizations fail if they are measured by Jesus' four-part criteria. While some church organizations may do one or two of these things, it is very rare when all four of these events happen on a consistent bases. This alone should tell a lot of people that something is wrong.
When Christians see that hosts of churches fail in the biblical evaluation, it should become apparent that these are not real churches at all, but empty shells where Jesus is talked about in passing. The empty shells suggest that if the Holy Spirit is not in them, then who is? It should be apparent that the scenario I mentioned in the previous part is truer than anyone wants to realize.
The church organizations that do survive, do so because they have evangelists who, by various means, bring people into their organizations. Once they are members in the organization, they are then controlled and managed, often by a few families. Many people often spend the rest of their lives working in that organization promoting that organization's version of the Gospel. I also find it interesting that many business organizations now have the job title "evangelist" in their organizational structure.
The even sadder reality though, is the number of people who see the control and manipulation, and walk away. While some continue to follow the LORD and seek the truth, others discard the LORD, begin to dismiss it all as "religion," and walk into a world of spiritual "nothingness." Those that do continue to follow the LORD often discover truth that the LORD does not share with corrupt church organizations. Like the first century churches, these former churchgoers gather in their homes and study the Bible for themselves. It is interesting that federal, state, and local governments have started banning Bible studies in homes. It could be that these government leaders have a vested interest in protecting their church organizations or even worse, they are taking orders from the spiritual entities discussed by Paul in Ephesians 6:12, and are doing what they are told.
When one studies the entire matter, it becomes clear: Satan does not mind you getting "saved" as long as you are placed in a church organization he controls, and are busy doing what he wants you to do (of course, he will get you to think you are doing the Lord's work). His minions control hordes of people using their controlled church organizations, and they do not have to expend a lot of effort to do it. The people in these organizations become controlled and pliable, and sometimes pawns every time a horrific demon wants to go on a rampage (a lot of the people who drank the Kool-Aide from Jim Jones's water tank were just "good church people"). The church organizations do little or nothing to protect their members from various forms of witchcraft or sometimes total possession, which is why we see otherwise "good church people" suddenly commit heinous crimes or sometimes walk into otherwise unfathomable evil. It is very clear that the day has come when we can no longer trust the church organizations to protect us, teach us, and prepare us for the battle that is ahead.